INT. CHURCH – DAY
From congregation POV, the REV BURNS preaches a rousing message of hell fire and redemption. He is very active, kicking his leg out and punching his arm in the air for emphasize while shouting his message.
No man knows when Jesus will come. Those left behind will face untold trials and tribulations. The fires of hell will nip at their heels.
From Rev Burns POV, the congregation sits raptly listening. You hear the occasional “amen” and “hallelujah” as he ministers. JESS and JUSTIN have their heads down texting on their phones while Rev Burns continues to preach in the background.
Their only hope is to make it to an altar and pray like they’ve never prayed before.
Justin, want to go to the lake after we get out of here?
Sure. Anybody else going?
Justin points to Jess’s phone silently asking who she’s texting.
The normal crowd, at least those who can get a ride to the lake.
Wake up! Look at the signs! His coming is near.
Jess and Justin both look up, startled at the loud shout from Rev. Burns. When they realize he’s still preaching they look at one another giggling nervously.
EXT. CHURCH – DAY
People mill out of the church. Some of the people smile, others talk quietly, some are still sobbing as they exit. Most of the people stop and shake hands with Rev Burns and compliment his message. Jess and Justin walk out together.
Jess, Justin, I trust you enjoyed the message today
(shaking Rev Burns hand)
Rousing as always, Rev Burns.
Justin, come on. We’ve got to go.
Justin smiles at Rev Burns and hurries after Jess.
EXT. LAKE – DAY
Jess, Justin and several other young people play volleyball in their swimwear at the lake. MARY sits to the side, head tipped back letting the warm sun caress her skin. Unlike the others, she is dressed in a modest one-piece bathing suit.
Hey, Mary! Come on and play, you can be on my team.
Thank you, no. This is a beautiful day God made and I just want to enjoy it and look at the view.
I hope that view you’re checking out is these awesome abs of mine.
You know that wouldn’t be nice of me.
EXT. LAKE – NIGHT
Most of the young people lie on towels and blankets, a fire burns on the beach. Jess cuddles up with a cute guy and Justin puts logs on the fire.
Justin bring me a beer.
You better not have another one. It’s almost time to go home and we don’t want to be grounded.
You sound like Mary, being all goody two-shoe. You can talk to the ‘rents, just bring me a beer.
INT. FAMILY ROOM – NIGHT
Jess and Justin enter the front door and attempt to sneak up the stairs. They hear MOM and DAD in the family room. Mom’s low quietly modulated voice reads a passage of scripture out loud.
Justin and Jess make it half-way up the stairs before hearing their Dad call out. Jess hurries up the stairs and Justin turns to talk to his Dad.
I thought you guys were going to be a church tonight?
We were, Dad. I’m sorry we were playing volleyball and lost track of time. We’ll do better next time.
You know it’s not acceptable to miss church, besides your Mom was worried sick.
(hanging his head)
I know. I’m really sorry.
Have you been drinking?
Dad hollers at Jess to come downstairs. She comes mid-way down.
Jess, get down here!
Have the two of you been drinking?
Jess and Justin look at one another to see who will speak first. Justin breaks eye contact first, swallowing hard before speaking.
No sir, we were just playing volleyball and swimming.
I don’t believe you. Go to the kitchen. I bought a new sobriety breath test kit today. Let’s see if it works.
INT. JUSTIN’S BEDROOM – NIGHT
Jess sits in the floor. Her eyes and lips are red and swollen. Her skin is blotchy. Justin is sitting cross leg on the bed idly flipping through channels on the muted TV. A phone rings and rings in the background.
I told you not to drink, now we’re stuck here all next weekend. You totally ruined my date with Mary next Friday.
Blame it on me. You drank as much as I did—prolly more, but no, you’ve got to impress folks so you stop early.
Jess starts coughing and blows her nose on a shredded, wet tissue.
Dad was less worried about the drinking and more worried about telling me I needed to get “ready to go.” I’m so tired of hearing that every single day.
It’s true, Jess. I just don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. They act like it could be today….I wonder why they aren’t answering the phone.
INT. HALL – NIGHT
Justin gets up, steps into the hall and picks up the phone. He nods and looks down the stairs. A light shines in the family room but he can’t see his Mom or Dad. We only hear one side of the conversation.
I don’t know..they were in the family room, but I can’t see them now. I’ll tell them to call you Rev. Burns.
Justin hangs up the phone walks downstairs. He hollers loudly for his parents as he walks.
Nobody answers. He continues down the stairs and walks into the family room. The room appears to be empty at first glance. He sees his Mom’s Bible and glasses in the floor. He hurries across the room, trips over some clothing on the floor.
He looks down and sees his Dad’s clothes, glasses, spilled tea glass and belt on the floor. He bends down, picks them up and lays them on the sofa. His forehead wrinkles in puzzlement before he realizes what he sees. He yells loudly.
Jess! Jess! Oh my God! Jess.
Jess runs down the stairs, skidding to a stop at the family room door.
What? What’s wrong?
She sees Justin stand there with their Mom’s Bible in his hand.
It happened. They’re gone.
Gone? What do you mean gone?
Jess steps further into the room. She turns slowly looking around. She picks up her Mom’s Bible.
They’ve got to be here somewhere. They are messing with us like they always do.
Justin speaks to her slowly like he would speak to a small child.
No, I don’t think so Jess. That was Rev Burns on the phone. He said most of the saints were gone, disappeared leaving only their clothes behind.
Justin walks over to Jess, puts his arms around her and continues.
He said the grave yards are torn up, like bodies have been dug up. He said..he said he didn’t make it…
INT. CAR – DAY
Jess drives the car. Justin sits in the passenger seat. Jess fingers constantly tap the steering wheel. She frequently glances at Justin. Her lips clamp together in a thin line. She glances accusingly at Justin.
Why? Why did they go? Why did they leave us? Why didn’t they take me?
You know where they’ve gone and you know why you are here.
She stares at him, eyes narrowed, teeth clenched.
This is all your fault.
Justin stares out the window. His face is slack, blank. High line poles flash by as he remembers.
INT. FAMILY ROOM – DAY (FLASHBACK)
4-year old Justin sits on his Mom’s lap and learns the alphabet. His Mom sings the ABC song in a soft voice. Younger Jess plays with alphabet building blocks in the floor.
A B C D E F G, Jesus died for you and me; H I J K L M N, Jesus died for sinful men
Justin’s tiny voice chimes in
MOM AND JUSTIN
Mom finishes out the song frontwards and begins singing it backwards.
Z Y X and W V, God is watching over me…
INT. CAR – PRESENT DAY
Justin turns his head toward Jess. His voice is quivering.
You know why they’re gone and you didn’t have to follow me, but you did. You made your own choice.
The car continues down the road entering town. Justin softly sings another verse of the ABC song out loud.
B is for Bible, the map to heaven. H is for hell.
Justin punches the dashboard. He looks out the window looking for a familiar landmark before speaking to Jess again.
You know it’s no use. Rev Burns said to get here as soon as possible, but you know it’s not going to change anything. Right? You know that, right?
They said, Mom and Dad said, if we don’t make it to go to the church and pray.
Jess’s voice catches. She holds back a sob.
Maybe God will hear me. L is for love. If he loves me he will listen to me.
They both see the church steeple at the same time. It shines brightly against the gray of the sky. They can no longer drive the car due to the large number of stalled cars on the road. They exit the car and continue on foot.
There are too many people, we can’t get there.
We must. The altar is our only hope.
They both push and shove through the crowd. They lose sight of one another. Jess finally gets to the door stepping on the backs of people lying on the floor. She reaches the altar, wraps her arms around it, lifts her face toward heaven and screams.
Father, forgive me.
Above is one of my submissions in a beginner’s screenwriting class. The required screenplay format did not translate well into blog form. I took one of my previous stories and converted it. I made a decent grade on this project but it is far from perfect. Enjoy!